Reaching the top in any sport requires a long, hard climb. But when you start with the baggage of years of family dysfunction and incarceration in a hellish mental hospital, the climb is especially steep. Yet even with such weights to carry, Anissa Zamarron won not one, but two, world championships in women's boxing. Her story, as dramatically intense as the Clint Eastwood film Million Dollar Baby, is one of tremendous courage and determination to overcome the odds against her as a Latina and as a woman working through mental illness and addiction—a fight in which Zamarron has been as powerful and successful as she has been in the boxing ring.
In this compelling biography, acclaimed author W. K. "Kip" Stratton collaborates with Zamarron to tell the story of her unlikely rise to the pinnacle of women's boxing. With searing honesty, Zamarron describes how the chaotic breakup of her childhood family caused her to develop "demons" that drove her to aggressive behavior in school, an addiction to self-destructive habits, including cutting, and eventually to a corrupt for-profit mental hospital in which she spent eighteen months tied to a bed. She explains how boxing became her salvation as an adult; she learned how to turn her anger and aggression into motivation to train hard and excel at her sport, not only becoming the first woman to fight as a professional in a sanctioned fight in New York, but also fighting more ten-round fights than any other woman in history. A gripping account of Zamarron's 2005 upset win over Maribel Zurita to claim her second world championship caps the book.
W. K. Stratton is a freelance writer whose previous books are Chasing the Rodeo: On Wild Rides and Big Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and One Man's Search for the West; Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader (co-edited with Jan Reid); and Backyard Brawl: Inside the Blood Feud Between Texas and Texas A&M. His journalism has appeared in Sports Illustrated, GQ, and Outside.
Anissa "The Assassin" Zamarron is a two-time world champion flyweight boxer whose professional career spanned 1995–2007. In the course of more than thirty pro fights, she was never knocked out. Her goal in telling her story is to persuade other women, especially Latinas, that "you don't have to feel limited in your choices. You can achieve."
Epilogue: Never Knocked Out
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